The Perfect Red

28Oct09

Oh, the search for the perfect red nail polish. Like the search for the perfect love, or the perfect fry-up, it truly is a life’s work. It has obsessed me for years. Obviously my early forays into nail-painting (my mum doing my toes for ten minutes when I was 6, before taking it off in case I got fancy ideas) were led merely by the desire for COLOUR. I didn’t really care what colour. Then when I started doing my nails properly in my late teens I considered myself too young for proper red nails. My then-elevated sense of self-worth positioned me somehow ‘above’ the pedestrian reds and corals that mums wore, and I preferred to paddle in the shallows of Hardy Candy shades or grim pearlescent things.

But then time passed.

I became more obsessed. And then even more obsessed.

For a while I thought Essie’s Really Red would tide me over. I was wrong. Largely because it’s quite pink. Throughout this quest, there was always one nail icon I had in mind: Dot Cotton.

slide-6-dot-cotton

Now THOSE are red nails

Whatever is thrown at Dot, she always has immaculate nails. The woman has had an extraordinary life. But throughout it all she has maintained a steadfast 1940s red on her fingertips. It’s not flashy, it’s never chipped, it is essentially DOT. I love her.

Thus, my obsession grew. Finding the perfect red was not enough! I wanted Dot Cotton’s red. I asked Sophy Robson if she had any contacts who might know, and I put out a plea via Twitter for any contacts on Eastenders. And lo, Twitter came good. I was given the Series Make-up Artist’s details. She is called Karen. She thinks I’m a bit weird.

I called her up, explaining that I was a contributing editor at Elle (I am!) and that I would like to know what colour Dot wore, if at all possible.

‘What a bizarre request’ she said. And then, WITHOUT HESITATION, she continued. ‘There is not one brand. It’s always a deep, classic red…’

‘Yes! I called it World War 2 red!’ I interjected.

‘…but it’s never from the same brand. Whatever is to hand’.

And there we have it. There is no Dot Cotton Red. It is whatever is … to hand. Of course! Dot doesn’t have time for manicures, online shopping or faffing about in Selfridges talking to over-scented sales girls with Botoxed armpits. She just goes red, she stays simple, she keeps it classy.

Inspired by this new, liberating knowledge, and a look I had had at this post earlier in the weekend, I found myself wandering into Superdrug on Sunday afternoon. I might have had quite a big glass of wine at lunch, and I might slightly have had that feeling when you just want a new thing. Before I knew it, I was in front of the Revlon counter. And there before my eyes was one last bottle of Revlon Red. The colour of my childhood. And I just know Dot has worn it. It cost £4.17. I came home an immediately applied. It has not chipped.

RevlonVarnishLowRes.jpg_e_63d51a6c885c0071b3a74da4341ed27e

My Perfect Red

It makes me feel like Dot Cotton and Grace Kelly and Cindy Crawford and My Mum At Her Best. It’s my perfect red. I hope you find yours.

x

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3 Responses to “The Perfect Red”

  1. 1 iamjamesward

    I have little to no interest in nail varnish (varnish or polish? I think this still has to be addressed), but this is a magnificent blog post. In its own way, it’s morally uplifting.

  2. Everyone has their own Perfect Red. Even if they don’t paint their nails x


  1. 1 New to nail varnish and already in the red « Ribbon and Rope

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